Travel insurance policies come in different types of packages, with all manner of options and choices. It is designed this way for a reason, of course. You would not want to pay for cover that you are unlikely to need, or skimp on cover you should have.
A basic policy may be adequate, or you may find you'll be more comfortable paying a bit more to obtain higher levels of cover, as needed. It often depends on where you plan to travel. Let's say you plan to travel to a destination such as Madagascar, which has limited medical facilities. In the case of a serious medical emergency you may have to be transferred by air ambulance to another country for treatment. Therefore, you would be wise to pick a policy that offers the maximum cover for medical emergencies. It should also include cover for air ambulance and medical repatriation. If you check you may find that a very cheap policy does not include this cover.
You will need to decide whether to opt for a Single Trip or Annual Multi-trip policy. If there is any possibility that you may take more than one trip in a year the Annual policy is normally the best value for money. On many policies children are included free – which is a major saving for family holidays.
Travel insurance premiums normally increase depending on where in the world you are travelling. For example, the cost of travel insurance for a British citizen travelling to Europe would be less than if they were flying long-haul to a destination such as North America or Australia.
Most travel insurance companies offer different levels of cover so that you can choose. Paying a bit more for the next level should affect the amount the insurer will pay on a claim, or increase the amount of items covered. Pay attention to the amount of Excess (Deductible) included as it may be much higher on a cheap policy. (This is the amount you have to pay towards a claim). To keep the premium very low it is often the case that levels of cover have been cut or the amount of Excess increased.
When it comes to pre-existing medical conditions the cost may increase dramatically for serious pre-existing conditions, or the insurer may not offer cover at all. Most often though the average company will agree to cover a specific condition for an extra premium, or with the understanding that any claims related to the condition are excluded. This can be a bitter pill to swallow for those that are affected.
Unfortunately, it is a fact that travel insurance for seniors is usually more expensive because of the assumed increased risk of a medical problem arising – despite the fact that our seniors are probably healthier these days than they have ever been!
Winter sports (skiing / snowboarding) insurance can be added to a typical travel insurance policy for an additional fee. Other add-ons may include cover for activities such as:
- Business Insurance – additional premium to cover many travel-related risks associated with travelling for business
- Golf Insurance – additional cover for mishaps concerning a golf holiday to cover lost or stolen equipment, golf equipment hire, and pre-paid green fees
When it comes to activities deemed by insurers as 'Hazardous' the cover may vary greatly between policies and companies. It is important to check and understand which activities are covered as standard. A typical policy will include activities in which you can participate on a casual, unplanned or 'incidental' basis. An additional premium may be required to provide cover for activities that are considered planned or 'non-incidental'. Confused? Do not worry, it is not as complicated as it sounds! Here are some examples to show the difference:
'Incidental' usually refers to activities such as a bungee jump, an elephant ride or sleigh ride that you may decide to participate in on the spur of the moment. 'Non-incidental' or planned activities refer to those that are participated in on a regular or non-causal basis. For example: the activity is the main purpose of the trip, such as a sailing holiday, scuba diving holiday, safari, white-water rafting trip, or cycle touring.
There is no question that insurance can be a difficult subject to grasp – most people would prefer to spend their precious spare time doing something much more interesting and fun!
The bottom line really is that if you do not have time to look into it in detail, make sure that the policy you choose contains, at a minimum, adequate cover for potentially costly travel problems involving: Medical Expenses, Medical Repatriation, Air Ambulance , Personal Liability, and Legal Expenses. A good basic policy and even a backpacker policy should contain these as standard. Pay a little more and you will get more features.
Beware of that cheap policy offered as an incentive – it may not always be a good buy. You get what you pay for – and peace of mind is priceless!